75% of women develop at least some degree of pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. Some of the risk factors for prolapse include:

  • History of chronic respiratory conditions (i.e. asthma, cystic fibrosis, COPD)
  • Chronic constipation
  • History of regular heavy lifting (i.e. power-lifting, weight lifting at the gym and occupational lifting)
  • History of high level elite sports (i.e. gymnastics, basketball, netball)
  • Vaginal birth with forceps delivery
  • Birth trauma
  • Any history of pelvic floor weakness

Early diagnosis of prolapse is essential for preventing further progression of the organ descent. Some of the symptoms of prolapse include a dragging feeling in the vagina, pain during intercourse and obstruction of stool or urine voiding. By the time a patient will experience these symptoms they have most likely had a prolapse for quite some time.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or even have any of the above risk factors, a prolapse assessment will be able to identify if you have a prolapse, what kind of prolapse it is and the severity of the prolapse.

The above image shows a side on view of the pelvis with the pelvic organs in situ (bladder, uterus and rectum). The first image depicts an unaffected pelvic cavity in which the pelvic organs are in their usual place and are held up well by the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue. The subsequent images then show the anatomy of various prolapse pathologies in which the organs descends into the vaginal wall and out of the body.

  • Normal Anatomy (A).
  • Anterior vaginal wall prolapse or bladder prolapse (B).
  • Posterior vaginal wall prolapse or rectal prolapse (C).
  • Uterine prolapse (D)
  • Normal anatomy following a hysterectomy (E)
  • Vault prolapse or uterine prolapse following a hysterectomy (F)

Lauren Riddell – CCHN Physiotherapy